Now and then I try to imagine what it would be like if I were wrong. I know — the very thought is absurd. But bear with me.
After all, it’s one of the contentions of us right-wingers that leftists, by monopolizing the news media, by framing every debate as an argument between their opinions and some sort of hatred, and by blacklisting the opposition from the entertainment business as well as academia, have put themselves in a position where they never have to defend their policies logically. By avoiding true discussion, they have given themselves a license to spout intellectual and political claptrap in loud, self-righteous voices. In the interests of wisdom, shouldn’t we refuse to do likewise but instead challenge ourselves to improve and hone our ideas in open disagreement? Of course not — it’s irritating. But now and then, I try to do it anyway.
So, for instance, though I’m a person of faith, I sometimes read works by atheists to insure that my ideas can withstand their attacks (easy-peezy). Likewise, now and then, I try to ask myself whether I haven’t gotten President Obama and the rest of the establishment left all wrong. Not everyone who voted for Obama, after all, was trying to save Big Bird’s right to an abortion or watching TV and thinking, “Gee, he hugged someone in New York. He’s nice.” Some of his supporters are actually intelligent people of good will who like what he’s up to. What do they see that I’m missing? Are we conservatives being too hard on the guy?
There’s no doubt that, on occasion, right-wing political discourse gets just as overheated as that of the left. Last week, for instance, Obama made some comment about “keeping my own naughty and nice list,” and some on the right made a fuss about how Nixonian and sinister it was. My feeling: It was a Santa Claus joke, dude — and perfectly fair bare-knuckle politics as usual. It ain’t bean bag. Chill.
So what if, just as a thought experiment, we eliminate ALL such hysterical stuff? What if we assume Obama is NOT some sort of Richard III “determin-ed to be a villain.” That he’s NOT trying to bring down the American economy? NOT intending to compromise our freedoms to appease Islamist savages? NOT attempting to leave America defenseless in the face of its enemies? What remains when we take all that away? Who is the best possible Obama?
As far as I can tell, that best Obama — Obama as he sees himself — is pretty much in line with Charles Krauthammer’s version of the man. He’s a European leftist who wants, ala the leaders of post-World-War-II Britain, to trade our international power for a large social entitlements framework here at home. Is that so terrible? Winston Churchill, after all, supported universal health care. And Britain remained a reasonably free nation after exchanging its empire for the National Health Service. (Because that was the trade: the money that funded the European social model came out of Europe’s military budgets.) Through much of the second half of the last century, Europe was a charming place to live. I know — I lived there.
So okay, some of us may prefer living in America to New Europe, but would it really be so awful to have more social programs and fewer guns? Arms are for hugging, aren’t they? What’s the problem?
Well, of course, there is a problem and it’s a big one. Europe abandoned its international responsibilities after the war in the sure and certain knowledge that a rising U.S. was there to take them over. Without us, the Europeans would have been crushed by the Communist juggernaut. And Israel would just be one more of a thousand stories that end with the words “dead Jews.” Who does Obama think will step in when we have absconded militarily from the world scene in order to fund our entitlements? The UN? Even with us in the mix, the UN is still a festering snakepit of tyrants. Without a powerful American presence, it would soon be one big Global Jackboot. Who else then will defend world freedom? The Chinese? The Russians? The Muslim Brotherhood? Without US might, these chumps are power-hungry wolves outside a house of straw. As it was before the World Wars of the last century, the weakness of the good is the strength of evil.
And more. By my lights, a welfare state lasts for about seventy years then collapses. It takes a greedy generation like ours a single lifetime to spend both the wealth accumulated by its parents and that projected for its children. The Soviet Union hit that wall around 1990. Europe is hitting it now. We’re not far behind. Obama is not building a new American engine on the European model, he is hopping on the caboose of a train that has already crashed.
See, the truth is, Obama doesn’t have to be a villain to be a danger to our country and to the world. He is simply a visionary with his back to the future, leading us “forward” into a failed yesterday. He’s not evil. He’s reactionary. Which is why even the best of all possible Obamas is a complete disaster.
So it turns out I’m not wrong, after all. But of course we knew that.